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Tim Holden has never run for office before, and he confesses that he ignores politics as much as possible.
"As long as the streets were plowed, city services worked pretty well, and taxes were bearable I'd leave politics to the busybodies," he says on his website.
But on Monday, the 44-year-old landlord and businessman was at the Ramsey County elections office, filling out forms for a campaign finance committee to run as an independent for mayor of St. Paul — making him the only candidate so far to challenge Chris Coleman's bid for a third term.
Why is he taking on a popular DFLer with lots of money in the bank and most of the city's movers and shakers — including the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce — already in the mayor's corner?
"I'm a concerned citizen of St. Paul," Holden said. "I'm worried about the direction the city is going, worried about the lack of community input, the lack of business input, the lack of common sense."
As of late January, Coleman had $104,000 to spend on the campaign; Holden's committee lists $4,500. But although the odds are long, Holden said he's in the race to win and not just to flog issues.
Since last month, he and his supporters have distributed fliers and waved signs on street corners, boosting his candidacy. Holden has launched a website, holdenformayor.com/, and plans to hold his first campaign event at noon Wednesday at the St. Paul Farmers Market.
As examples of what he sees as Coleman's indifference, Holden cites Central Corridor light-rail construction and planning for the Lowertown ballpark.
Central Corridor construction is of special interest to him because he owns a building on W. University Avenue near Snelling Avenue which he leases to the Love Doctor, an adult sex shop. His campaign headquarters is in the rear of the building.
Holden has a problem with how St. Paul during Coleman's time in office has treated landlords. A dozen landlords are suing the city in federal court, claiming that it's been too aggressive in enforcing codes.
"We need to make it easy on them," Holden said.